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Cheaper By the Dozen 2: Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is a funny, friendly, warm fuzzy movie that will help people appreciate dads, moms and children. It is not a great movie like the 1950 original, but it is a good movie full of good humor, with only a few scatological references. Most of this movie is clean, wholesome and moral. Fathers may even be brought to the brink of tears by their loving portrayal in this movie.

Tom Baker, played by Steve Martin, loves his family of 12 children and can't let go of them. At the graduation of his daughter, Lorraine, played by Hilary Duff, he is shocked to find out she is going to New York to work for Allure magazine. He is further shocked that his pregnant older daughter, Nora, is leaving for Huston with her husband Bud, who's just gotten a great job. Adding insult to injury, nobody wants to participate in the family's famous annual touch football game.

Tom decides to take them all back to the lake in Wisconsin where they used to have so much family fun. There, he meets with his childhood enemy, Jimmy Murtaugh, played by Eugene Levy. Jimmy has bought most of the property around the lake, built a mansion for himself, turned the club into a very snobbish country club, and converted the lake community into an expensive, wealthy vacation retreat. Jimmy has always competed with Tom. In fact, the last time Tom came to the lake, the Baker family lost the annual Labor Day family competition to Jimmy's family by one point.

Of course, the stage is set for a rematch. This is complicated by the fact that the children from each family seem to like each other. In fact, a couple of them pair off, so the fathers have to work even harder to coach their teams.

Jimmy is a stern disciplinarian and has turned each one of his children into over-achievers. Tom and his wife, Kate, superbly played by Bonnie Hunt, believe in love and listening. Both systems, of course, are shown to have their weaknesses, but stern discipline seems to be more reviled here. The good news is that the movie moves inexorably toward the right answers for everybody's problems. Some of it is very lightweight, but all of it is very heartfelt. The laughter elicited from the audience was sincere, and there are many warm fuzzy moments tugging at the heartstrings.

Steve Martin is terrific in his reprise of his better roles, Father of the Bride and Cheaper by the Dozen. Eugene Levy is superb and comes off as the insufferable snob, Murtaugh, with flying colors. Best of all is Bonnie Hunt. She is the quintessential mother and wife. Her innuendo, inflection, compassion, strength, and forbearance all work together to produce a compelling character.

The movie starts very slow but builds to a heartfelt conclusion. We've used the word heart several times because it is totally appropriate. This movie has as big a heart as all the children portrayed in it.

The problems with the movie sound more important than they really are when reiterated. One of the annoying jokes in the first one was the joke about the dog going after the hamburger meat in the crotch. Regrettably, this joke is repeated twice here. The dog also goes after a woman in a low cut dress.

That said, practical jokes are chastised, stealing is condemned, and the bad is not approved. There are pratfalls and budding romances, but they are very mild compared to many other movies in this category. The exclamations sound more like exclamations than curses. And, there is even a Christian Negro spiritual sung by the Murtaugh family around their campfire.

It should be noted that one studio insider was annoyed by the scene where the two fathers sneak into the theater to supervise the romance of their two children. When the boy starts to put the moves on the girl, Tom complains. Jimmy plays innocent, so Tom demonstrates what the boy was trying to do. Two women in the theater are shocked at Tom doing this. Some people in the screening thought this was a humorous put-down of same-sex behavior. Who knows?

Address Comments To:
Rupert Murdoch
News Corp.
Peter Chernin, President/COO
The Fox Group
Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. and News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000


NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.




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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become